President Rivlin meets with Christian leaders in Jerusalem

Rivlin meets with several leaders of Christian communities in Israel; Rivlin: The State of Israel is deeply committed to ensure the religious rights of worship and activity of all communities of faith in Jerusalem and throughout Israel.

Israel’s 10th elected president, Reuven Rivlin

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin met with leaders of Christian communities in Israel on Monday, the meeting held at the Apostolic Armenian Church in Jerusalem.

The meeting was attended by the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal and the Armenian Patriarch Nourhan Manougian, as well as several Christian leaders from various denominations through out Israel.

Rivlin spoke of Israel as the only democracy in the Middle East and as a safe haven for Christians amidst turmoil and persecution of Christian communities in the Middle East. He stated on the meeting, “I come here today to say in the clearest way: the State of Israel is deeply committed to ensure the religious rights of worship and activity of all communities of faith in Jerusalem and throughout Israel. But these times are challenging times not only in our holy city [Jerusalem], but across the region. Civil war and bloodshed in the name of religion, have brought much pain, and loss, to the Christian communities.”

He spoke of the growth of Christian communities within Israel, stating that he is “proud that Israel is the only country in our region where the Christian community is not shrinking, but in fact is growing.  Christianity in Israel is not only about historic or holy sites and the many pilgrims who come to visit them. It is a living faith, a living community. We must work together to make sure this stays that way.”

Rivlin spoke of Israel’s support of the Christian community in Armenia during the genocide in 1915. He stated that “In 1915, when the members of the Armenian nation were being massacred, the residents of Jerusalem – my parents and my family – saw the refugees arriving in their thousands. In Jerusalem they found shelter. No one in Jerusalem denied a national massacre that had taken place. We are morally obligated to point out the facts, as horrible as they might be, and not to ignore them.”

Armenian Patriarch Nourhan Manougian responded stating “It is a pleasure and an honor to welcome you all on this special occasion. We the Armenians appreciate the sensitivity you have showed to the community’s concern regarding the genocide. We reflect on our deep commitment to our Christian faith which has often lead us to persecution and death, just as the Jewish people have died for their faith.”